Month in Review: March 2013

The Mars Curiosity rover drilled into a rock and found clay – yet another sign that the planet had flowing water and conditions that were potentially life-sustaining. Topographical analysis had led scientists to believe that if there were oceans on Mars, the planet would look like this. A man in New Jersey was arrested for stealing 21 tons of cheese, with an estimated street value of $200,000.

The Euro is doomed – here’s why, in 4 steps. Bassem Youssef, the political satirist known as the Jon Stewart of Egypt, faces an arrest warrant for insulting the President Morsi and Islam. Google has released street-view images of Namie, an abandoned town of 21,000 (now zero) just north of the Fukushima nuclear incident. Rush Limbaugh has thoughts on Beyonce’s new song, and he’s not completely wrong. Tiger Woods is once again the number one ranked golfer in the world. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took a picture with Shaq. Continue reading “Month in Review: March 2013”

Marriage Equality: About Damn Time

The Court may go this way or that, but finally, the country seems to be on the right path. 

As many of you may have noticed this week, Facebook was flooded by a wave of digitized Rothkoesque profile pictures in support of marriage equality as two pivotal cases make their way through the Supreme Court, challenging the governments’ ban (California – Prop 8) and non-recognition (federal – DOMA) of same sex marriages.

The hater inside of me initially thought about the silliness of reducing a civil rights issue to a social media profile image. What difference would it make? I doubt I was alone in dismissing the value of the trend. In spite of my own cynicism, I changed my profile and was hit with a feeling I had not felt since November 2008 – another instance in which I scoffed at (yet publicly supported) a national campaign that was unforeseeable just a few years earlier.

SC Supreme Court Facebook

Nearly five years later, Continue reading “Marriage Equality: About Damn Time”

Of Course Satan Was Black

Arguing about whether Jesus was white or not is so passé. These days, Satan’s race is all the rage. 

white Jesus

I’ve grown accustomed to seeing Jesus being portrayed as a white man. It’s still wrong, but it no longer bothers me that a man born in Palestine is almost always depicted as a northern European. I draw the line, however, when the History Channel goes out of its way to juxtapose a white Jesus with a dark Satan in its new miniseries “The Bible“. Oh yeah, and dark Satan looks a lot like President Obama.

black Satan

The folks over at the History Channel issued the following statement:

“HISTORY channel has the highest respect for President Obama. The series was produced with an international and diverse cast of respected actors. It’s unfortunate that anyone made this false connection”

False connection. Right. Even if he didn’t resemble President Obama, I find the use of a dark-skinned man as Satan in an otherwise almost entirely white cast shameful. The resemblance with Obama is just the dingleberry on top.

 

Republicans’ Groundhog Budget

If you want to understand the new GOP budget, read the old one. Give money to Republican voters and cut everybody else out.

Old habits die hard. Paul Ryan and the House Republicans have offered up a budget that is almost identical to the one proposed last year – the one that was roundly rejected by voters in November 2012. The most revealing aspect of the proposed budget is that the GOP cares about cutting government spending only when the beneficiaries of said spending do not vote Republican.

The following graph from The Atlantic breaks down the cuts according to major federal expenditures.Ryan Budget Breakdown

Which programs are left alone? Continue reading “Republicans’ Groundhog Budget”

The Polarization of Remembering Chavez

hugo-chavezI saw Hugo Chavez at the height of his popularity. To the various communist parties of Jawaharlal Nehru University, he was a rock star. It was warm and sunny and thousands of students packed into the stadium seats by the athletic field to hear the Venezuelan President and his translator boast and gesticulate. I wasn’t an admirer or a detractor – I went mainly to see the spectacle. Considering my neutrality, I must admit that it was difficult to not get swept up in the moment. Still, I sat silently just in case there were CIA spies taking notes for future conversations with me (8 years later and still no such chat).

A casual look through my Facebook news feed and you might think that a saint just died. To fully appreciate Chavez’s reception on campus, one would have to compare his visit to that of Manmohan Singh, who was booed off of stage when he spoke to the same students a few months later. I remember the Prime Minister of India trying to calm the students down with his soft voice, saying something along the lines of “I may disagree with you, but I wholeheartedly agree with your right to disagree”. My Uzbek friends were astonished – the leader of the country was not even allowed to make a speech at the university whereas, Chavez, just a few months ago, was treated like a hero.

Needless to say, sentiments are not quite the same in the US. While his opponents are not overtly celebrating his demise, they are certainly not mourning Chavez. Contrary to common belief, the US Government did offer official condolences, but only in a sort of backhanded manner. This from a State Department official:

“We express our sympathies to his family and to the Venezuelan people…Frankly, the way I was raised, when somebody dies you always express condolences… There’s a family involved here, we sympathize with that.”

In other words, we’re doing this because we have to, not because we want to. But what else could be expected when the man who passed referred to your former President as a donkey and the devil, your current President as Continue reading “The Polarization of Remembering Chavez”

Keeping it Classy at the United Nations

America’s deputy Ambassador to the UN asks that delegates stop showing up drunk.UN HQ

The US’ deputy Ambassador to the UN, Joseph Torsella, made the following request to the General Assembly Budget Committee on Monday:

“We make the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone”.

Now that’s the bold kind of leadership the world needs in these uncertain times.